History was made at Ring Of Honor’s State At The Art: Dallas. Punishment Martinez walked out of the June 16 event with the ROH Television Championship title belt his waist, his first championship in the organization. After delivering a devastating South Of Heaven chokeslam to Silas Young all that was left was for the ref to count to 3. Less than two weeks later, Punishment will put his belt on the line against Adam “Hangman” Page at Best In The World on June 29. With the rivalry between Punishment and “Hangman” heating up, the fight promises to be nasty, brutish and full of violence.
HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY spoke with Punishment ahead of his State Of The Art fight, and the 6’7 tall wrestler revealed if he’s “All In,” how he’s proud to rep Puerto Rico, and his thoughts on battling “The Horror King” Vinny Marseglia to prove who really is the monster of Ring Of Honor.
HollywoodLife.com: What’s the main difference between Punishment Martinez in 2017 and Punishment Martinez in 2018?
Punishment Martinez: I have been finding myself within the company. I have been wrestling for a while and really have changed my style, my look and my appearance — depending on where I am and how things are progressing. Ring Of Honor was no different. I think when I first started, I was being told to be something I wasn’t and now, I have earned the opportunity to be myself and just have creative freedom and show a little bit more of the actual Martinez side and who I really am. I think it easier for people to identify and understand me.
You’re quite the intense individual in the ring. What do you do in order to get to that level of intensity?
[laughs] Well, physically, I train seven days a week. Whether it is a gym lifting or in a wrestling facility like the Monster Factory where I am in the ring and training with a buddy. I like to do martial arts, which I really still am part of. Mentally, I guess I used to fight before I was a pro wrestler. I put myself into that zone and am like, ‘All right, it is now do or die!’ So, I need to succeed and I psych my self out right before I go through that curtain.
You’ve once said that you were into “horror, skulls, heavy metal music.” What metal are you listening to as of late?
Thrash metal is probably my favorite. Bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. But I like old genres of metal. …It changes day to day. When I go to the gym, I usually use a streaming service and I will randomly put in a band. Today it was Iced Earth, who are a more traditional thrash metal like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest and what not. So, I will put the station on and something similar will play and so thrash metal and old school is where I am at.
Do you think you’re the true “Horror King” of Ring of Honor? Will you ever challenge [The Kingdom member] Vinny Marseglia for the title?
Oh no. Vinny’s thing is different from mine. He is the “Horror King”: he represents the horror movie monsters and getting inspiration from them. I get inspiration from anything violent. It doesn’t take a lot to be horrible.
I might not challenge him for that but the idea of him and I squaring off? The creativeness that could come out of that and us is something that is intriguing–especially since it has been like two years now and our paths haven’t passed once in the ring or just in general, which is crazy.
So eventually, it has to happen. You are not the first person to mention it. It is something I would love to have a long program with him and get creative. We can get creative and get some really dark ideas to it.
With Puerto Rico’s rich pro-wrestling history, how does it feel to carry on that tradition?
It is really cool. I know that there are other Puerto Rican wrestlers out there doing their thing on big platforms, but for me, it means a lot. For me, I am a proud Puerto Rican. I lived on the island for years and I don’t think anybody has been a megastar from the island in the last few years. I feel like I can do that for us.
It is inspiring for me to get messages from people especially from people on the island and dealing the hurricane [Maria] aftermath and getting their messages of how I am inspiring to them. It is so cool and humbling and I just hope to do the island proud.
Are you “All IN?”
I don’t know. We will see because I haven’t really discussed much about that with anyone or anybody. I know that they are still contacting people but no as of right now I have no announcement or confirmation for ALL IN.
I am happy for those guys [Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks] and it is incredible what they achieved. Again, it goes to show that professional wrestling, social media and hard work – t hey put in a lot of work. It is not all about fun and games and people assume it is. It is crazy the amount of hours that those guys put in. Its not just them — everybody has — and they have just done it longer so they are getting rewarded. We all strive to that and hope to be in their position one day.
Do you want to do some acting or anything else besides wrestling in your future?
Yeah – acting for sure! I have spoken to a few people about it and I would like to make larger strides towards pursuing outside projects. I don’t want to transfer to that because I love what I do. This is my dream job since I was a child and it is crazy that I get to live it and that is not going to go away ever! On the side, I would like to do acting and more of that.
I have recently stuck my feet back into martial arts and fighting so there is always a possibility of that. I have brought it up to promoters in smaller MMA productions so that is a possibility as well. But, right no, it is all about Ring of Honor.
I have a lot of stuff coming up with that and I am proud to be working with the company as it is on an unbelievable roll. I mean, in the past, I have heard guys say that they are a part of an era that it is going to change how the business will be perceived and they didn’t know it at the time. They didn’t know they were in a magnificent era but we know and are very aware of what is happening right now. It is so rewarding that we are working so hard for it and achieving it together.
Not just Ring of Honor but pro-wrestling in general. Ring of Honor is growing so quickly and like I said, I am so proud that it is happening. We knew it would happen. So, while I do want to venture out and try different products, I will stay grounded and my main focus will always be pro-wrestling.
What would you attribute the boom in ROH and wrestling as a whole right now to?
Yeah man. It is crazy right now! Just to be a part of it. I just think social media has helped wrestling so much. It is now easily accessible and now, you don’t have to wait for one night a week to watch wrestling. Now you can watch every night and every single day on so many different platforms.
Ring of Honor is taking full advantage of that with our streaming service [HonorClub] Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and every other platform in between. So that is something that attributes to the latest success of professional wrestling and bringing social media and fans who are really going out of their way to watch it every way shape or form.
Many people will be seeing ROH for the first time this weekend. What should they expect form a show?
The term “the best wrestling on the planet” probably started off as a cool name to get people’s attention but like, we tried to make that an honest statement. If you are looking for the best professional wrestling and get your money’s worth for professional wrestling, then Ring of Honor is your best bet.
Top to bottom, no one on the card mails it in. Everyone always tries their best to put on the best show possible and we take pride in that. That is not me just saying that because it is the right thing to say for the company. It is true.
We are still fans and I think a lot of people forget that sometimes. I grew up watching wrestling and I still watch wrestling. I watch as much wrestling as I can and study. But sometimes you have to sit back and enjoy it and that is why, with ROH, some people say it is good to go last because that means you are a top guy. But sometimes I like going first so I can go back and relax and watch the rest of the show. It is so darn good, it really is.
That is the truth and I am very honest. That is why and that is not just me, that is the entire locker room. When I see Cody watching the monitor or matches and listening to crowd reactions and smiling and being happy for people they have no connection with. That means something. And, if they are doing that, then that sets the tone for everyone else. It is a very prideful locker room and we take a lot of joy in delivering what we say we do. And that is the best wrestling in the world.
Ring Of Honor’s Best In The World takes place on Friday, June 29 th at the UMBC Event Center in Baltimore, Maryland. Fans can watch LIVE on Pay-per-view and with HonorClub VIP.